The Loris business community came together this past week for the annual Loris Chamber of Commerce Awards Banquet at the Center for Health & Fitness.

Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Samantha Norris said the banquet -- emceed by Jack Murphy -- is an important event that has been taking place in Loris annually since 1970.

“It is a way for us to give back to the community and showcase the merchants and citizens,” she said.

Several awards were handed out during the banquet:

Outstanding Youth Award -- Jacob Black -- presented by Justin King, Jacob’s uncle.

This award is given each year to a young person who contributes to the community in the form of leadership or volunteer work.

King said Jacob is currently number two in his class at Loris High and has been accepted to attend Clemson University to study engineering.

His goal is to develop prosthetics to help others.

Community Service Award -- Cobi Williams -- presented by his mother, Maria Elias Williams and Veda Nichols.

This award goes to a person who contributes to the community in the form of leadership, volunteer work or financial support.

Nichols described Williams as “one of the most grateful individuals” she has ever met.

Over the years, Williams has run for city council, has spearheaded coat drives for those in need since 2009. He is the only person ever on the Loris High swim team.

Public Safety Award -- Lt. Larry Williams -- presented by Chief Gary Buley.

This award goes to a person who works in the public safety profession who contributes to the community in a positive and effective way.

Buley said Williams has made a tremendous impact in the community as he has helped solve many drug cases since he was hired.

“When he started part-time I knew I needed him full-time,” Buley said. “When we brought him in in 2017, we made 23 General Sessions cases which is big drug cases. In 2018, with him still part-time half of the year, we made 66 General Sessions cases.”

That caseload increased to 189 in 2019.

“He is well-liked by the officers,” Buley concluded.

Brooks Entrepreneur Award -- Dr. Mary Carmichael -- presented by Betsy Prince.

This award goes to a business established between one and five years that has shown ability and steady growth.

Dr. Carmichael is a chiropractor with offices in Loris and Conway. And she hopes to expand to other areas.

“She is a former school teacher who worked her way through college to fulfill her dreams,” Prince said of Carmichael. “She sponsors and supports our military veterans. She has established a strict no wait policy in her business for our veterans with or without insurance.”

Diamond Award -- Gregory Martin -- presented by Lisa Rife.

“[Martin] is involved in so many activities. Chambers, board of directors, president of the chamber for two years, Reclaim Ministries, praise and worship leader with First Assembly of God, works with the youth, involved in missions. He helps with chamber duties still and is the best at emceeing the annual pageant,” Rife said.

Merchant of the Year -- Maria Elias Williams -- presented by her son Cobi Williams.

This award goes to a merchant that contributes to the growth of the community.

“She has been able to operate a successful business. Be a world-class competitive swimmer, did a phenomenal job at raising her son,” Williams said. “She loves Loris. She moved down here in the 1980s. She went to law school and passed the bar exam the day she had her son. And she opened a law practice.”

Citizen of the Year -- Veda Nichols -- presented by Bridgett Fowler.

This award goes to an individual who provides outstanding service to the community.

Fowler said Nichols -- the widow of former Mayor Henry Nichols -- has the five characteristics of a good citizen.

“The characteristics are honesty, compassion, respect, responsibility, and courage,” Fowler said.

She started the Loris Women’s Coalition and the Freedom Readers that helps children learn to read.

Lifetime Achievement Award -- Frankie Blanton -- presented by Johnny Shelley.

This award goes to a person who has made a significant impact on the Loris area.

Frankie Blanton is owner of Blanton Building Supplies with locations in Loris, Marion and Little River.

He served 16 years on the Horry County School Board and was chairman for six years. He is on the board of Horry Electric and helped start Horry County State Bank.

Shelley said one of the things Blanton is most proud of are his days as a little league coach.

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